A U.S.. naval ship, the USS Mahan, visited Istanbul last week for a short port visit. These sorts of things happen all the time and aren't usually noteworthy. But the blog Bosphorus Naval News paid close attention to this visit, and noted that the visit may have been driven by commercial, rather than merely friendly, motivations. The destroyer's visit happened to take place during a big defense exposition, IDEF, and the U.S. ambassador's comments at the expo used the ship as a showpiece for U.S. defense industry:
I join Commander Mondlak and his crew in inviting you to tour the proud USS Mahan. This fine example of American high technology and advanced engineering, and is itself the result of partnerships between numerous American companies, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, McDonnell Douglas, General Electric, Alliant, Gould, and Sikorsky, many of whom are represented at IDEF.
In particular, the Mahan has a sort of radar that is under consideration for the next generation of Turkish ships. And U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin had just signed a deal with Turkish manufacturer Havelsan involving production of those radars.
The signed contract of course raises the question whether the next generation of Turkish warships will have SPY radars and components of AEGIS systems on board.
The blog, in a separate post, takes issue with that deal given that Turkey also manufactures naval radars:
One of the contracts signed during the fair was between Havelsan and Lockheed Martin for the integration of SPY phased radar systems to the CMS made by Havelsan. The SPY radars are the backbone of the US Navy’s AEGIS air and anti ballistic missile defence system.
Well this question must be asked: On one hand there is a local electronics power house like ASELSAN that is trying to develop naval radar systems on the other hand you sign a deal with a US company about the most important and significant air defence radar systems. How will this deal effect the local development and why it was necessary.
And from an American perspective, one might ask: how often are these sorts of port calls made for commercial reasons? Did Lockheed reimburse the U.S. Navy for the expenses it incurred on this sales visit?